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The Top Three Future Foresights:

We trade articles with each other each month, these were three of our faves.

#1 Committing to innovation - A Discussion with Beth Comstock (McKinsey)

“Just having the mindset that “this is going to be messy” helps. I came to appreciate the value of having at least two lanes or speeds in the organization. You have your now lane and your next and new lanes, and you allocate capital to them differently. You have to think about measurement differently and the kind of people and ideas you’re working with. Yet most people just lump them together into a big jumble. You don’t have a profit in the next lane—sometimes you don’t even have a customer—and yet you are trying to get your P&L in shape. There is a series of things companies can start doing differently just by clearly delineating a now lane and a next lane.”

#2 Stop Calling it Innovation (HBR / Nadya Zhexembayeva )

“Innovation’s public profile is matched by its priority on the CEO’s agenda. In 2019, 55% of company leaders participating in PWC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey claimed “We are not able to innovate effectively,” which placed that skill gap on top of the list. The 2020 C-Suite Challenge Report, published by the Conference Board, listed “building an innovative culture” among top-three most pressing internal concerns of 740 CEOs surveyed globally.

Since then, I’ve heard this same question posed in various ways at some point in every single project on which I’ve worked. Only a few weeks ago at the annual innovation jam of a global consumer goods company, I was told point blank: “For you people, innovation is all that. For us, it’s extra work with no results or —much worse — lost jobs.”

The data bear out these fears. A research team at the University of Toronto surveyed 1,000 American and Canadian knowledge workers (all employed and with college degrees) to assess their attitudes towards innovation. In addition to measuring “drive to innovate,” the scientist looked into things like “grit” and “openness to risk” across two countries and three age groups (under 35, 35 to 44, and over 45).

While the drive for innovation among participants varied from 14% to 28%, only two of the six different groups measured broke the 25% mark. Willingness to take risk was even more telling: at best, 19% of your company is willing, with some age groups dipping as low as 11%.”


“Jack (or jill) of all trades” is oftentimes used in a half-demeaning way in describing many of these type of unfocused generalists, usually caveated by the additional phrase “master of none”. Apparently, it’s not just restricted to the Western world.

The Chinese muse, “周身刀,无张利 (equipped with knives all over, yet none is sharp)”. Estonians barb, ““Üheksa tehingut, kümnes – nälg. (nine trades, the tenth one — hunger)”. Greeks opine, “Πολυτεχνίτης και ερημοσπίτης (“A man of many crafts and a deserted home”)”. Globally, we generalists have a perception issue.

We need a new vernacular to describe the people that business really needs for the uncertain future:
– Renaissance men and women (talent and knowledge in many different fields of study)
– Polymaths (wide-ranging knowledge or learning)
– Decathletes (versed in 10 different sports)
– Multipotentialites (many different interests and creative pursuits in life)
– Ambi- and multi=dextrous (the ability to do more than two to three things at once)
– Factotums (a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities)
– Pantologists (taking a systematic view of all human knowledge)
– Comb-shapeds (broad based with multiple expertise areas)
– Multi-hyphenates ( a person with multiple hyphens to describe their professions e.g. singer-songwriter-producer)

We’ll add to the new lexicon by now calling them futureproofers – people who see and envision the future by having fluency in multiple lenses (the workplace, the strategy sphere, operations & technology, the marketplace, innovation and the future). We’ve attached the set of six sources of skills below that a rising tide of futureproofers is bringing to their change imperatives. Generalists see the forest through the trees and connect dots. specialists see tree (or worse still bark) and draw straight lines.

Top Change Infographics:

The world is a visual place. We sparked to these three visuals for what they contributed to futureproofing and understanding what’s next.

Top Futureproofing New Contributions:

We love connecting and collaborating with change agents, thought leaders and contributors to how we can change, transform, innovate and grow better. Here’s what we found this month:


The Other 30 Headlines:

Our other key thirty foresight headlines for the month below. All wonderful, provocative and well thought out, and covering off the full futureproofing universe. Click on the bar to expand our summary or click again to get directly to the source link.

#4 Flow by Design: A new model for business success (ZDNet / Vala Afshar)

“There is a quiet revolution going on across all our major industries, one that has been hiding in plain view until now. A small number of pioneer organizations have successfully created radically differentiated business models to their industry norms. They have done that by reinventing the way they manage their resources.These companies have also shown us that innovation at scale will require the adoption of new business models and flow-based design principles.”

#5 The Shopify angels: How the e-commerce company’s leaders are funding a new wave of ambitious startups (The Globe & Mail / Brenda Bouw)
“Shopify Inc., the Ottawa startup that exploded into a $70-billion company by providing an e-commerce platform for entrepreneurs, is now fuelling the success of other startups through its growing list of employees now doubling as angel investors.”
#6 Intrepreneurs are Driving Corporate Change (Financial Times/ ELIZABETH UVIEBINENE)
“An intrapreneur is defined as a person within an existing organisation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation. The term was coined in 1978 by business school founder Gifford Pinchot III, defined as the “dreamer who figures how to turn an idea into a profitable reality”. Essentially the goal of an intrapreneur is to create something new that does not exist. They have many of the same characteristics as successful entrepreneurs, they think outside the box, problem-solve and are idea generators who take calculated risks when they approach business challenges.”
#7 How to Do Strategic Planning Like a Futurist (HBR / Amy Webb)
“Why We Avoid Long-Term Timelines. My observation is that leadership teams get caught in a cycle of addressing long-term risk with rigid, short-term solutions, and in the process they invite entropy. Teams that rely on traditional linear timelines get caught in a cycle of tactical responses to what feels like constant change being foisted upon them from outside forces. Over time, those tactical responses — which take significant internal alignment and effort — drain the organization’s resources and make them vulnerable to disruption”
#8 The Book that Took 9 Years To Publish - Invisible Solutions (Stephen Shapiro)

“I’ve been asked, “How long did it take to write the book?” The answer is, “It depends.” It depends on how you look at it.

December 2 – 10, 2018, I locked myself in a hotel room and started working on the book. Although I left the hotel with the first version of the manuscript, it took a lot longer to write than just one week. In fact, upon reflection, the book took nine years to write and publish. Hopefully this article will serve as inspiration (and education) to others who want to publish a book. Enjoy!”

#9 Is Disruption on Your Radar? (LinkedIn / Line Lyst )
“While an overview of tech trends (e.g. Gartner Hype Cycle) may provide an overview of technologies on the rise, it does not say anything about the impact on your organization or help you make strategic decisions of where to focus going forward. A Disruption Radar on the other hand helps business leaders spot strong signals of where the market is heading based on start-ups on the rise – not just the tech! It also offers a more analytical method to identify disruptions and gauge their impact.”
#10 Airbnb hires Disney veteran to lead Experiences division ahead of expected public listing this year (CNBC / Rosa & Feuer)
The Experiences division could play an important role as Airbnb eyes an expected public listing later this year. Investors will look to see if Airbnb has successfully expanded into new services and offerings. Airbnb launched Experiences in 2016 to diversify beyond its core offering of accommodations and capture more of the travel economy.
#11 Eleven Companies That Own Nearly Every Product in the Grocery Store (Reddit)

P&G, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Pepsico, Kellogg’s, Mars, General Mills, Mondelez, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft/Heinz, Nestle

#12 Radically Advancing Product Design with State-of-the-Art Simulation and Deep Learning (My Tech Mag / Prith Banerjee )
“Deep learning is ushering in a new era of democratized simulation which will disrupt nearly every industry. It will enable almost anyone — even those with a limited engineering background — to run simulations by offering a simple set of parameters and instructing the software to simulate an object. Becoming deep learning-enabled within the next year, simulation tools will improve how engineers innovate new products, allowing them to deliver products to market faster than ever before while cutting costs.”
#13 Selling Light as a Service - Philips & Turntoo (Ellen Macarthur Foundation)
I told Philips, ‘Listen, I need so many hours of light in my premises every year. If you think you need a lamp, or electricity, or whatever – that’s fine. But I want nothing to do with it. I’m not interested in the product, just the performance. I want to buy light, and nothing else.
#14 The 10 Characteristics Of A Future Facing Company (forbes / TENDAYI viki)

“Running a startup is difficult. But most startup founders have it easy compared to corporate entrepreneurs trying to innovate within an established company. Innovators in large companies often find themselves surrounded by slowing moving institutions with traditional management practices. Most corporate management tools were developed during an era when the world moved at a much slower and predictable pace. Such tools are not suitable for innovators who are searching for new business models.”

#15 How To Drive Innovation In 2020 (Forbes / Teresa Spangler )

After finding those questions, you can then start to inventory your data, but not without answering additional questions:
– What is your current culture around data?
– Who are your creative thinkers in the organization?
– Where are the data experts in the company, and what core competencies do they have?

In other words, in order to answer those first two questions, you have to generate and investigate answers to nearly 100 other questions, if not more. Gaining the answers to all of these questions will allow you to build a landscape for possible ideas — on a scale of minimal risk to disruptive, high-risk ideas. You will also be able to outline the success criteria for each idea.

#16 These are the Most Innovative Economies in the World (World Economic Forum)
“Germany has been named the world’s most innovative economy by Bloomberg.It takes the top spot from South Korea, ending the country’s six-year streak. Cancer research, meat alternatives and smart home technologies are among the major developments of our time. But which countries are world leaders in research and development, patent activity, high-tech density and everything that comes with fostering innovation? A recent Bloomberg ranking shows the most innovative countries by index value. Germany ranked highest in 2020, breaking South Korea’s six year streak. The U.S. is ranked in ninth place, losing one rank compared to 2019.”
#17 The Verge 2020 Tech Survey (The Verge)

More importantly, Americans generally believe the biggest tech companies have too much power and ought to be split up. Among survey respondents:

56 percent said the government should break up tech companies if they control too much of the economy
72 percent said that Facebook has too much power
51 percent said Google and YouTube should be split into separate companies

Microsoft leads big tech companies in the number of Americans who say they trust it, at 75 percent of survey respondents. Amazon is close behind, at 73 percent. Pulling up the rear is Facebook: just 41 percent of Americans say they trust the company to safeguard their personal information.

#18 Culture is a key element within an airport’s digital transformationn (International Airport Review / Arash Rahmani)
Aviation must break down the industry’s silos One of the main barriers to a successful digital transformation are silos. Silos are more than a structural issue; they create a culture with narrow-minded employees who hesitate to share information or collaborate across functions and departments. They create an environment with less transparency, where there are less organisation-wide initiatives and where employees are focused on tasks within their own department, rather than improving the processes organisation wide. We work within an industry where breaking down silos is necessary. Our core processes go beyond silos: The process of passenger handling involves multiple departments such as safety and security, facilities, communications, marketing and IT. For innovation to succeed efficiently and effectively, silos need to be broken down so that the focus is on the core processes and how innovations can improve each step.
#19 Emotional Connection: 2020's Biggest CX Trend (Forbes / Danny Tomsett )
Yet something feels off. We’re more “digitally” connected than ever before, but for all of our “always on,” “chat now” and “click here,” we’ve also simultaneously departed from the impactful, emotionally connected experience we would have with a real person. A study conducted by PwC found that “64% of U.S. consumers and 59% of all consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience.”
#20 5 Top 5G trends for 2020 (Tech Republic / Teena Maddox )

“The rollout of 5G in the year ahead will improve cellular networks, but it won’t save organizations and their users from a poor web experience. Even in early adopter markets, organizations should refrain from piling on bigger videos and images to their pages and mobile apps. GSMA predicts only 18% global 5G deployment by 2025. While download speeds will improve with network deployments, the reality is that user devices will continue to be the main constraint for user experience. In 2020, organizations will instead turn to technologies such as WebAssembly and JAMstack to accelerate device processing and deliver fast-by-default experiences.”

#21 The Top Five Challenges In IoT Digital Enterprise Transformation (Forbes / Charles Tower-Clark)
“A study from Accenture shows that only 22% of large organizations are able to effectively scale their digital innovation proof of concepts (PoCs) to drive growth. Five key challenges appear “over and over again.” First and most significantly, companies tend to be too focused on technology when undertaking digital transformation—“they hear a really good pitch, and it seems so easy to implement” says Mislin. The hype cycle around new IoT technologies certainly contributes to this, with 5G being a perfect example. “5G is another feather in the cap,” says Mislin, “like a lot of advanced technologies, it’s super powerful in some cases and irrelevant in others.”
#22 Earning Trust and Building Confidence with Conscious Consumers (PSFK)
Gaining the confidence of consumers today is no easy feat: Just one third of surveyed respondents reported trusting most of the brands they buy with, while 55% are increasingly concerned about customer experience and 69% about a brand’s societal impact.. But does whether consumers trust brands or not matter? Evidence says overwhelmingly yes, with 81% of consumers stating that a top consideration in purchasing with a brand is being able to trust it to “do what is right,” and 70% connecting their past purchases with trust-related considerations like reputation, values and eco impact. Further, when it comes to important or high-stakes purchases like the financial or medical, roughly 90% of U.S. and U.K. residents prefer doing business with established brands over startups. So, how to encourage cynical consumers to hand over their faith in a climate where the most trusted brands are overwhelmingly CPGers, and the top trustee is none other than the USPS ? First, a quick look at where consumers want most to hold brands accountable: According to Edelman research, product experience figures as the top area where consumers need to trust brands, followed by consumer experience and finally societal impact.. Moreover, customers want brands that have strong values and take a stand, with 78% of Americans stating companies should positively impact society and 77% reporting that they feel a stronger emotional connection to purpose-driven groups..
#23 The Future Of Work Is From Anywhere, at Anytime (Entrepreneur / Mike Swigunski)

According to an article in Harvard Business Review, 43 percent of American employees have performed some part of their job remotely. Case studies of the effects of allowing employees to work remotely suggest that their productivity may increase by anywhere from 4 percent to 13 percent, generating billions in additional economic value for the U.S. economy each year.

Although technology has been a boon for the remote-work revolution, shifts in workplace culture driven by millennials and Generation Z are what will shape the future of work. These young workers have been immersed in technology all their lives, and they are the ones whom employers will be thinking about when it comes to recruitment and retention. Digital and technological skills are the new currency of employment, as demand continues to increase for IT, social media, SEO and analytics, and as new digital roles emerge in old industries like construction, logistics and energy. Employers will have to adapt quickly to what the new workforce really desires: the ability to work flexibly and from anywhere, improved work-life balance and more independence in the workplace.

#24 Forget polling, there’s a better way to predict the next president and other trends (Fast Company / Mike Berland)
Suddenly, the age of polling—of analysis by the survey numbers—was over. Instead, we were living in the age of momentum as a metric. I saw that most political analysts were trapped in the past, regurgitating 20th-century models—doing things the way they’d always been done. And the numbers were failing them because their reliance on statistics (mass of support) ignored what drove the momentum (velocity). A formula to quantify this was needed, which is how I came up with the momentum factor, or “MFactor,” in my analytics. It’s based on physics, which originated with Isaac Newton: P=M*V. Where Momentum equal Mass * Velocity. These five drivers are what fuel momentum: – Polarization: Discussions powered by strong points of view, or even controversy. – Innovation: Create something new and/or improved in a way that creates FOMO. – “Sticky”: Being memorable in an unexpected way. – Disruption: Challenging and changing the game. – Social Impact: Connecting to a larger purpose.
#25 A retrospective on the future of work (Atlasssian)
In a rapidly-changing world, transparency and information sharing (not off-limits labs and secretive, siloed projects) will unleash the potential of market leaders in this decade. 89 percent of employees say that transparent decision making boosts team achievement. Finally, the products and services that will win the hearts of customers will be the ones that built by diverse teams that harness the varied perspectives of their people and share their ideas openly. 67 percent of the high-achieving teams we studied practice giving feedback to each other in order to strengthen their work and produce better results. The future of work is Open. Open work practices allow for unhindered access to the right context, the bigger picture, and important information when it’s needed most. All teams can do amazing things when they work Open. Get more insights on the future of work from our Open research.
#26 The future of work looks like staying out of the office (ARS Technica / Kate Cox)

Roughly a quarter of us are already doing at least some work remotely. About 24 percent of US workers employed full-time did “some or all” of their work at home, according to the most recent federal data available. Even as some workplaces become increasingly distributed around the nation and the world, though, others are reversing course and doubling down on the corporate campus. So as we here at Ars look toward the future of work, we find ourselves wondering: employers and employees alike benefit from getting some folks out of cubeville, so what are so many businesses and managers afraid of?

#27 Five Challenges to Every Transformation (Inc., / Martin Zwilling)
The key organizational impediments to fast transformation that I see all too often, even in businesses with top management committed to first-mover speed and agility. 1. Passive resistance to change from within the organization. 2. Transformation fatigue from continual challenges. 3. Difficulty in securing and protecting funding. 4. Keeping priority on what matters for long-term success. 5. Maintaining digital transformations through a downturn. Amazon, for example, “grew up” in the last recession by continuing to expand their range of products and focused on automation. According to Investopedia, Amazon grew sales by 28 percent in 2009, while most companies were hunkered down and losing share. In the same year, Lego’s profits soared 63 percent as they expanded their initiatives and operations in Asia and Europe.. The only way to build that momentum, and stop it from evaporating over time, is to drive through the challenges outlined here, no matter what.
#28 A New Era Of Emerging Technologies: Welcome To The Age Of Intelligence ( / Stephanie Overby)

“One in four CX leaders will get fired this year if they cannot improve CX to ensure revenue gains or cost savings. Indeed, more than half of consumers (54%) say CX at most companies needs some work, and a third (32%) will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience, according to PwC.

But here’s the good news: In the years ahead, CX leaders will have at their disposal an array of advanced technologies capable of transforming customer experiences. In fact, we are on the cusp of a new era of emerging technologies that Adobe CTO Abhay Parasnis calls the “intelligence wave,” and it’s bringing us machines that are learning how to see, hear, sense, and interpret the world around us. New, immersive technologies will create breakthrough experiences that extend into the physical world–beyond the screen of a mobile phone or lens of a pair of smart glasses.”

#29 Deep Dive: Digital-First Banking’s Challenges And Benefits (PYMNTS)
Mobile and online banking’s prevalence has reduced physical branches’ importance, but these brick-and-mortar establishments are still vital to customers’ financial lives. Even millennials, who heavily lean on remote banking, still visit physical bank locations for more complex functions, such as loan applications. A recent study found that 75 percent of this generation’s members visit financial institutions (FIs) at least once per month. Banks looking to make the most out of these rare visits must use the latest technologies. Digital-first transformations can improve personalization and operating efficiencies, but they also bring challenges, including adoption-related costs and new avenues for fraud.
#30 New Research: Businesses face a 'digital ceiling' in their transformation progress (KM World / Joyce Wells)

“According to the research, companies know how to achieve moderate transformation success, with an 18% increase in companies progressing this year from the lowest tier of Watchers to the middle Explorer tier. However, Explorers struggled to move into the top Visionary cluster, with the top tier remaining the same, indicating a “digital ceiling” to transformation efforts.

The Visionary cluster remains unchanged despite companies reporting fewer barriers to digital transformation than last year. Human, rather than technological, barriers are now the most persistent, with the two of the top hurdles being the lack of talent or skills (34%) and a risk-averse corporate culture (35%).

“Companies hit the digital ceiling once they’ve mastered basic levels of digital competency,” said Kavanaugh. “Imagine moving from paper records to spreadsheets. Large companies have made that change. Now imagine shifting from the spreadsheet residing on one bookkeeper’s computer to a world where data is constantly updated and made available in a usable format to all relevant users. That’s a different and much tougher challenge, and it’s where companies bump up against this digital ceiling.”

#31 Scale digital innovation like a Champion (Accenture, David Abood)
“Scaling winners, scaling losers – our survey of 1,350 global senior executives in key industrial sectors found that few companies win, most struggle and some completely fail, especially as they attempt to shift from improving the efficiency of their operations to generating new value for customers. Between 2016 and 2018, the industrial companies in our survey spent a little over $100 billion on scaling digital innovations to drive new experiences and efficiencies. Yet 78 percent of industrial companies didn’t reach expected earnings. Only 22 percent of industrial companies we looked at achieved a return on their digital investments (RODI) that exceeded their expectations. This small group of industrial companies, which we call “Champions,” are nailing digital transformation and rising above the rest. Our findings show that these companies approach the organizational challenges associated with innovation very differently to their peers. They are more strategic, identifying the value they want to achieve and recognizing how their innovation efforts will affect their organization. For high-performing Champions, it’s not about scaling more pilots (even though they do). It’s about earning more by scaling better.”
#32 The Future of Retail - Augmented shopping: The quiet revolution (Deloitte / Cook, Kusumoto, Ohri)

“Imagine a future where your customer no longer shops by perusing a catalog of products, but instead they select a product type—be it a pair of pants, a car, or a dining room table—and then interactively dial and swipe their way to achieve the perfect dimensions, color, and style of whatever they are looking for. They could then try on, try out, or interact with it in any environment they might want—all from the comfort of their own homes. This vision is what augmented reality (AR) and 3D technology are turning into reality.

It’s a revolution unfolding less like a bang and more like a slow but powerful shift in tectonic plates. However, that isn’t cause for complacency. Today, more than 1 billion smartphones and tablet devices can deliver augmented experiences,2 and within the next year, 100 million consumers are expected to shop using AR either online or in-store.3 The consumer appetite is increasing—since 2018, the number of mobile AR users has nearly doubled, with usage and popularity driven largely through social media.4 In 2020, 46 percent of retailers plan to deploy augmented or virtual reality.

This is where the future is going, and in three years, if you don’t have AR in furniture, you’re going to be looked at as old-school. We’re not waiting. We want to be ahead of all that.”

#33 These five culture trends will dominate the workplace in 2020 (Fast Company / Courtney Seiter-Buffer)
1. THE GROWTH OF CONSCIOUS COMPANIES A 2019 survey for Fortune found that an incredible 72% of respondents believe companies should be “mission-driven” as well as focused on the bottom line. And 64% say that a company’s primary purpose should include “making the world better”–just as many as believe it should include making money. 2. MENTAL HEALTH CONVERSATIONS IN THE WORKPLACE 2019 was the year that burnout–a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress–was formally recognized by the World Health Organization as an occupational phenomenon. Progress is already being made: In the UK, 30 of the UK’s most recognized businesses and organizations signed the Mental Health At Work Commitment. And the mental health site Made of Millions launched Beautiful Brains, a guide to help employees push for better dialogue about mental health in the office. 3. A MORE INCLUSIVE DEFINITION OF REMOTE WORK Increasingly, remote work is also a tool for economic development in areas where other jobs may not be as readily available. A growing number of U.S. states are offering economic incentives to lure remote workers to rebuild communities that could use an infusion of creativity, people, and resources. 4. ‘TURNING OFF’ FROM WORK BY DOING . . . NOTHING Jenny Odell’s book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy offered a “field guide” for mitigating the daily online grab for your attention while also creating more meaningful relationships. The Dutch concept of “niksen,” a twist on mindfulness, is to be deliberate about doing activities that we might think of as inciting boredom: looking out the window or even just sitting still for a while. 5. GROWTH OF INCLUSIVE FAMILY LEAVE Although the United States lags behind many countries in terms of family leave, there’s hope: Attitudes towards paternity leave are drastically changing in America. There’s also evidence that it’s good for organizations. Overwhelmingly, employers have reported that paternity leave had a “positive effect” or “no noticeable effect” on productivity, profitability/performance, turnover, and employee morale.
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